Female Cisco Engineers - the rise of women in IT

Transformation – The Rise of Female Engineers

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In the UK alone, a mere 16% of the IT workforce are female and only 8% are Engineers – bleak statistics indeed, but the future looks bright for women in IT with the rise of several prominent women in key positions within top companies.

Attitudes and current cultures need to change; men and women in the field of ICT need to challenge antiquated norms, challenge male-orientated environments and place just as much trust in a female in ICT as we do in males. A greater balance between males and females in key Technology and Board room positions help to:

  • Create equality
  • Challenge existing norms
  • Create an environment to harness innovation
  • Inspire more women to work in IT

Potential employers of female IT Engineers shouldn’t employ more women because they’re women, it should be done with the foresight of improving your business and fostering innovation. When a male IT Engineer turns up to a client for a job nobody blinks, when the Engineer is female everyone is watching – a woman with a screwdriver here to rack and mount? Then, when the female performs to an identical level of standards as the man, it is the female who will get the plaudits from the client – why, because they stood out. Make female Engineers a key strength of your company, stand out from your competitors and create a competitive advantage – pink screwdrivers work the same as black ones, but one catches the eye more.

Marissa Mayer – CEO Yahoo

In 1999 Marissa joined a young Google as employee number 20 and more significantly as their 1st ever female Engineer. For the next 13 years, Mayer climbed the ranks of Google heading the Google mentorship programme, multi-million dollar acquisitions and Google maps.

At just 37 years young, Mayer was appointed CEO of Googles fierce rivals Yahoo and has since been named in Fortune & Forbes list of the Most Powerful Women in Business in the world, and holding her own against the men to become number 10 as Business Person of the Year.

Rebecca Jacoby – CIO Cisco

For the past 20 years, Rebecca Jacoby has risen through the ranks at networking equipment giant Cisco and has been CIO & Senior Vice President since 2006. A founding member of the Technology Business Management Council, Rebecca is at the forefront of progressive technology. Considering Jacoby started her career in manufacturing and supply chain, she’s an inspiration to any gender working at Cisco, Network Engineering or in Technology.

In a recent interview with David Weldon of FierceCIO, Rebecca quoted “in my career I liked being involved in transformation. I always got the most out of jobs when I was asked to go in and make change and keep driving change.” Somewhat ironic that transformation is the key driving technological innovation and likewise, in this blog post with transformation being the key to creating a gender balance in Network Engineering, ICT and business.

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Girls in ICT day is a CSR programme where Cisco employees engage with 13-18 year old girls aspiring to work in the field of ICT. In 2015 over 3,000 students attended, up from 2,331 in 2014 proving the success of reaching out to females at a young age.

Culture

The problems of having such a paltry amount of female Network Engineers & ICT isn’t so much a failure within existing businesses, but more of a wide-spread ignorance. If there are more prominent female Engineers, CIO’s and CTO’s then more young girls will see a future for themselves in a traditionally male-orientated role. Zeus Kerravala, Founder & Principal Analyst with the ZK Research says there is a lack of skilled Network Engineers, especially in Wireless, Voice & Security. Therefore there are jobs to fill as Network Engineers – jobs that women can fill if given the chance.

If you’re a female Engineer what barriers have you had to face in ICT? If you’re an employer what’s your opinion on the lack or rise of female Engineers? All comments are warmly welcomed.

Cisco Network Engineers from CCNA-CCIE

You’re a Cisco Network Engineer – Now What?

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Gaining a certification as a Cisco Network Engineer is only the beginning of your professional journey, next you need a job. There are literally thousands of Engineers passing CCNA, CCNP and CCIE exams around the world every single year. All those bits of paper look the same; they all tell prospective employers that you did indeed pass the written and trickier lab exams.

You might have a Cisco Certification, but so do thousands more – the question is “Why would an employer hire you rather than the thousands of other equally qualified individuals?” Gaining experience can only be gained by well, gaining experience – so what else can help you become a SUCCESSFUL Cisco Network Engineer?

Professionalism

Any prospective employer and end client will demand a high level of professionalism at all times so you need to consider perception – how does the client or employer perceive your levels of professionalism? Make sure you:

  • Ensure the project scope/SLA agreement is adhered to at all times
  • Have your Engineers tools/kit – Be Prepared!
  • Dress like the professional you are
  • You’re the Technical one, not everyone else so refrain from jargon & being overly-technical

Applying for a job as a Network Engineer is just like any other, you need to portray a good image and one of professionalism. I recently had an online conversation with a Cisco Engineer who appeared on our website with the words “Need Job Mate” – em not from me you won’t, especially as your level of professionalism is shocking!

Communication Skills

Regardless of where you’re from, learn to speak the local language – and well. As skilled as you may be with IT Networks and the technical aspect of being a Cisco Engineer, you need to be able to communicate with clients, employers & stakeholders. There needs to be a trail of the work you carry out from start to finish, make sure you:

  • If you’re running late, tell your boss as early as possible
  • Alert your employer/boss of the time you arrive/leave and report to your onsite contact
  • Take photos before and after your work has been completed
  • Double check your work against the project scope – always focus on Quality of Service

Often external forces like bad weather, heavy traffic or car trouble can’t be avoided, so just ensure that you communicate with your seniors making your movements easier to monitor & track.

More Tracks

Once you’ve passed 1 exam, don’t stop! The more Cisco tracks you have, the better chance you stand of being employed. Technology, business and Cisco qualifications are all evolving – CCNA/CCIE Voice, Storage Networking and Service Provider Operations are now all obsolete – so keep training otherwise your skills will also become superseded. Gaining a certification in R&S is only the start; think about gaining certifications in Security, Unified Communications and Wireless – none of these tracks are likely to be retired anytime soon. With the birth of IoT, BYOD, Big Data and Cloud computing then skills for Unified Communications, Cybersecurity and Wireless will all be in high demand.

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Responsiveness

To become an in-demand Cisco Engineer – be responsive! If your employer calls you and asks “can you be in London/Paris in an hour?” put down your knife and fork, grab your kit and get moving. Respond to trends in the marketplace, less focus on Voice, more focus on Unified Communications. Less focus on Storage Networking and more on Data Storage and Cloud computing. Recently there have been some high profile security breaches with Sony, JP Morgan Chase and AOL and in 2015 75% of CIO’s intend to increase their IT Security expenditure, therefore be poised to respond to the trends happening in the world of IT Networking.

Housekeeping

Leave the site exactly as you found it. Ensure the communications cabinet is securely closed follow all in-house security protocols and don’t leave a mess. You’d be surprised as to the big impression you can make with small gestures of housekeeping.

Being a Cisco Network Engineer requires greater skills than the ability to rack, mount and stack a server or two. There’s an estimated 600,000 Cisco Certified Engineers worldwide, so if your professionalism, communication and housekeeping skills are lacking – then you won’t be stacking and racking. Since gaining your Cisco Certifications what problems have you encountered when looking for a job? As a client, what skills do you think Engineers lack/excel at? All comments are welcome 🙂